Happy 2011!
 Her joy is infectious.
 And so precious to me. 
Since I know how many surgeries she will likely face in her young life, and since I know that her difficult beginnings will someday come back to haunt her, it's a bit of a futile wish...but I always wish that she will not have to feel pain, that she will never get shy, and that joy will always surround her.
 We are a sybaritic family, and so food is always an important and pleasurable part of our lives. Whenever we make a chicken, my husband saves the wishbone on a small sill over the sink. When it's dry, we always split it, and make our wishes. 
I always win the larger side, but it hardly matters, since I know for sure that we both have the same wish (even though we've never spoken it aloud): 
Love, health and happiness for all three of us, for as long as we all shall live.
 Although I know that I can't save her from all suffering, I also know that one can live with suffering, and still live with a joyful and lucky life. 
After all, my greatest wish was as a child was not to suffer the cancer that my mother suffered from. And yet, that's exactly what befell me. 
What I learned from that experience was that the worst thing you can think of can happen to you, and yet it can turn out to be your greatest gift. You can go on to live a life greater than your wildest dreams, in spite of that worst thing happening to you.
 Of course, I would like to shield her from anything painful ever happening to her. And yet, that is probably not the best wish I could make for her.
 Instead, I'll wish her whatever might fall in her path, good or bad, painful or otherwise.
 Her joy in life is its own reward, and is not contingent on any lack of suffering.
After all, she has already suffered worse than many of us can imagine. 
At three days of age (more or less) she suffered the loss of her birth parents. Who can imagine such a loss? She was left out on the street in an unknown world, with no concept of what might befall her from that moment on. 
She spent nearly a year in an institution before we were able to travel to her. She had no choice in the matter of who would choose to be her parents, or where in the world she would end up. 
And yet, her joy has infused every moment of our lives together. 
So I suppose what I wish for her, on this first morning of the new year, is not an absence of suffering, but rather...resilence. The ability to remain happy and strong throughout whatever life throws at her. 

Happy New Year, my daughter, my love. 
May your world be ever unpredictable, and may your heart remain ever strong.


 Q's hand-painted Christmas cards drying in a doorway.
 She has quite a graceful hand, don't you think?
If you tilt your head to the side, you can see that she's painted the letters of her name into some of these. One of the others is a deliberate "rorschach", although of course she doesn't know the history of this type of imprint.
And in case you're wondering, the framed Mao-related magazine covers on the walls are pages from Mao-era magazines (Life, and others of the time) which I bought from used book vendors during the years of our adoption process. I'm an occasional collector of '60s print publications, and in all my pre-adoption research and reading on China, its history, philosophies, religions etc, I could not resist these. 
I remember the moment very well because we had just bought this house. My husband was working as sous chef for a prestigious restaurant downtown, and I was prepping, painting and furnishing the house on my own over the course of several weeks...all the while daydreaming, naturally, of the unknown child who would occupy the fourth bedroom at some undetermined time in the future.
 Christmas with my husband's family.
Here, she is playing the piano with her grandpa. 
Opening gifts with some of her cousins.

Making puzzles with cousin Rebecca and her daughters.
Activities in the kitchen as dinner is prepared.
With our friend Stephanie, from France, whom the Q adores. Stephanie and her husband bring us good champagne and a buche de noel for our holidays each year.

Q's grandma and Rebecca carving one of the turkeys.
My husband and Stephanie's husband (chef at a superb local French restaurant) working on the gravy, and the children's table, where the littles had a chance to decorate Christmas cookies.
Cousin Abigail painting icing on cookies.
The kids making decorated pastries with the help of aunt Lisa.
Stephanie and me with a blissed-out Q.


Still working on Christmas pictures...
 But in the meantime, I have a great number of new things in the works for my shop
including a new series of romantic and nostalgic necklaces.
 This one featuring a brass birdcage and a tiny perfume flask, just big enough for a couple of drops of your favorite scent, is a personal favorite of mine.
The series also includes cameos featuring details from some of my most beloved illustrations.
  Some in the shop already, and many, many more to come in January. 
And for even more news from the shop (yes, there will be another doll soon, and a new series of illustrations), go here!

(update: both necklaces have sold...but there's a new one in the shop, and I'll be working on more in the next weeks!)


 My Christmas present from my husband...a new Yoshitomo Nara book!
 And Q opening the last of her presents in her new pink bathing suit...


 So we opened our "at home" gifts on Christmas Eve morning, since we have family plans for the day.
 We just told Q that Santa came a day early.
 I sucked up my pride and gave her the all-pink Christmas of her three-year-old dreams.
 The pink camera that her daddy found for her was the hit of the day.

 She played so hard that she crashed an hour early for nap.
 Frankly, I think her brain was a bit fried from all the excitement. 
Last year, she was really still too young to appreciate the holidays, so this was her first big Christmas blowout.

 A Chinese dancing ribbon and fan provided hours of entertainment.
 Two of her favorite things in life: a basketball, and a pink ribbon.
 Playing "mailman" and delivering imaginary Christmas cards around the house.
 New dancing slippers.

 A grand finish to a performance.
 Francis looks on. This was Francis' first Christmas, and I think he was a big dumbfounded.
 Fan dancing with daddy.
Today was our at-home morning. Tomorrow will be the big family gathering. Wishing one and all a warm holiday weekend.